BORN IN VILLA Nicolas Bravo in the state of Guerrero, Aparicio lived in a home with no running water or electricity with his five siblings until the family moved to Mexico City when he was 10 years old.
"We were the poorest of the poor," he recalled. Daily existence remained a struggle for the family, which moved to a "vecindad" where they lived in one small room and shared a single public bathroom with 100 people. The prospect of a brighter future seemed unlikely as Aparicio approached manhood and made the painful decision to leave his homeland.
Driven by the desire for a better life, Aparicio travelled thousands of miles for weeks to the United States-Mexican border at Tijuana with his uncle, cousin and two others. At the border, they hid in the terrain for more than 24 hours, waiting for a chance to cross.
Soaked by heavy rain and weak from hunger, the 20-year-old developed a high fever and began doubting his actions.
"It's been 32 years and I still remember all those things as if it were yesterday," he said. "My biggest fear was that I was going to die at the border. I started wondering if I should go back."
But Aparicio believes the decision he made years ago shaped the man he is today.
"I chose not to give up. It's a lesson that I still apply today--never quit. It's important to keep going and take that next step toward a better future," said Aparicio, a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual in Bakersfield, California.
Today Aparicio assists Latino business owners and individuals with financial planning as they strive to create a better life, whether they're thinking about retirement, business succession, college savings, income protection or other crucial matters.
Aparicio views the turning points in his life as "stepping stones that ultimately made me a better individual and business person. Going through those trials built endurance."
Homeless for months in the United States, Aparicio learned to survive in the mountains, sleeping under trees and rocks. He picked citrus for three years.
"I worked six days a week in 110 degree weather for $ 150 a week," he said.
Without even a high school diploma in the United States, Aparicio worked his way up, leaving the fields for a fruit-packing business where he taught himself English. In time, he found work as a car salesman.
"I'm very proud that I have never been a burden to society or the government. I have been working all my life, paying my taxes and obeying the...